It took the Bengals one half of football yesterday to give up the same amount of yards and points to the 49ers as they did all game against the Seahawks a week ago. Going up against a better offensive line and play-caller, Cincinnati’s defense was E-X-P-O-S-E-D for being not too different than how they were last year.
Just look at Sam Hubbard. The second-year defensive end followed a two-sack performance by being a complete non-factor in the team’s home opener. When asked about the 28-point blowout in the locker room, Hubbard didn’t run from the harsh truth.
“We got punched in the mouth. No question about it. It was ugly…We have to fix it,” Hubbard said to reporters after the game. “We wanted to play well for the home crowd and obviously it didn’t happen. I have probably more people here than anyone on the team. So I know what you mean.”
Paul Brown Stadium and the home crowd that fills it eight times every fall is now pretty much used to defensive meltdowns like the one that happened on Sunday. Last season, during Hubbard’s rookie year, the Bengals allowed 500 yards in three consecutive games—two of them being at home.
The 49ers racked up a casual 572 big ones on Hubbard and his teammates. But according to him, the unit is in a better place mentally than it was last year.
“There was no bad attitude, screaming at each other on the field,” Hubbard said. “It was better than the hostility we had last year. I think guys were focused on what they were doing wrong rather what other people were doing wrong. Which is good. But we have to correct it.”
The defensive struggles of last year didn’t truly pop up until the middle of the season, just as everything started getting out of control and the losing set it. With it being just Week 2 of a new season, it would make sense why the defense isn’t:
- Nearly as improved from last year
- Nearly as ready to spontaneously combust from a chemistry standpoint
The talk of how last year was how much confusion there was in terms of communication and assignments. We’ve heard how those problems are no longer problems now, it’s just about executing. So it’s good if Hubbard and the rest of the defense are better equipped to work through these issues and therefore improve.
But the improvement still needs to come, or else this season will be over much quicker than last year.